2010-11 UC President's Faculty Fellows in the Humanities

Adriana Craciun, English, UC Riverside
Northwest Passages: Authorship, Exploration, Disaster

Northwest Passages: Authorship, Exploration, Disaster departs from hagiographic histories of Arctic exploration by assembling a series of multidisciplinary texts concerning the Northwest Passage. Moving from late nineteenth-century exercises in mass media-created Arctic disasters, back to influential sixteenth-century texts, my book charts the often circular passages of Arctic voyagers en route to disaster. In addition to offering an original historical and discursive framework for understanding Arctic exploration, Northwest Passages contributes a new dimension to studies of authorship and print culture, by moving outside literary and legal contexts to also consider in mercantile and governmental domains the significance of textuality in distinguishing authors, explorers and disciplines. The Arctic archive that I explore in Northwest Passages traces the encounters of a wide range of peoples, institutions, and disciplines, inscribed in books, manuscripts, graffiti, relics, and maps, from First Nations agents, to forgotten naval captains driven mad by their failure, to naturalists and novelists contemplating similar Arctic mysteries through distinct intellectual lenses. I argue that developments in print culture significantly shaped the scramble for the Arctic: failed expeditions began to succeed in publishing terms, and Arctic exploration came to be driven less by discovery than by the lure of disaster.

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Mayathi FernandoMayanthi Fernando, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
Reconfiguring France: Muslim Citizens in the Shadows of Secularism

Reconfiguring France weaves together an analysis of Muslim piety and French secularity (lacité), asking what an examination of Islam in France can tell us about the nature of religion, politics, and secularity in the modern world. Drawing primarily on ethnographic fieldwork as well as on archival research and media and political discourse analysis, it analyzes how pious Muslim citizens fashion new forms of ethics and politics as they reconfigure both the Islamic and secular republican traditions. My book also explores tensions within lacité that emerge in its encounter with Islam, tensions that are deferred onto Muslims who are, as a result, put at risk as viable ethical and political subjects. Departing from dominant interpretations of the articulation between French Islam and the secular state that insist on a mutual, monolithic unintelligibility between the two, my book re-situates conflicts between Muslim citizens and secular institutions within the longer histories of both lacité and French Islam. In so doing, it treats these conflicts as symptomatic not only of an emergent form of Islam, but also of long-standing tensions integral to French secularism itself.

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Mark FrankoMark Franko, Theatre Arts, UC Santa Cruz
From Anti-fascism to Myth in the Work of Martha Graham (1938-1958)

Martha Graham's choreography has not been studied with the critical, historical, and interpretive breadth afforded comparable twentieth-century artists such as Picasso, Stravinsky, and Joyce. Since the acquisition of Graham's archive by the Library of Congress many documents previously unavailable to scholars (letters, choreographic notes, and libretti) are accessible. I shall reconsider Graham's mature choreographic output from a historically contextualized, theoretically sophisticated, and biographically informed perspective. I focus on six key works: American Document (1938), Appalachian Spring (1944), Dark Meadow (1946), Night Journey (1947), Theatre for Voyage (1953) and Clytemnestra (1958). I analyze Graham's evolution from critical antifascism veiled as patriotism prior to and during World War II to myth in the immediate post-war period (1946-1948), and psychodrama in the fifties (1953-1958). I trace her extensive reading in psychology and anthropology and reassess Graham's assumed relationship to Abstract Expressionism. I argue that Graham developed a poetics of encryption serving both to bury while subliminally projecting meanings of personal and political import. I analyze how Graham's poetics of encryption develops from antifascism through myth to psychodrama. I contest the uncritically accepted view since the 1960s that Graham's work was fundamentally theatrical in the service of narrative and emotion.

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Kevis GoodmanKevis Goodman, English, UC Berkeley
"Uncertain Disease": Nostalgia, Eighteenth-Century Medicine, and Romantic Poetics

This book project examines the exchanges and relays between eighteenth-century medicine and the emergent discipline of aesthetics, before these were fully separate fields. Its specific point of entry for this larger problem is the curious case of nostalgia, once considered and studied as an international disability of modern mobility, whose historical niche was the unprecedented convergence of wartime and maritime travel, new modes of transportation, land clearances, emigrations, and rising homelessness. Nostalgia was motion sickness, in short, mediating between physiology and historicity. What happened to that disease and unease formerly known as nostalgia, once it was ousted from medical discourse? Uncertain Disease addresses that question by analyzing the ways in which the task of negotiating the balance (or imbalance) between somatic and world motions itself traveled from the human and medical sciences to Romantic era aesthetics or, as it was called in Britain, criticism. Specifically, I argue for a Romantic poetry and poetics whose aims were not, as in medicine, just therapeutic, but which retained the unsettling experience of expanding or enforced movement as the basis for competing ideas about the reading process and the relationship between literary form and its effects, whether affective, ethical, or political.

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Jennifer Hughes
Jennifer Hughes, Religious Studies, UC Riverside
Epidemics and New World Religions

Much as historians and scholars of religion have pondered how slavery, or perhaps more pointedly, the Middle Passage, shaped African-American religious belief and practice, this project seeks to uncover the impact of the initial experience of demographic collapse, and then of repeated waves of epidemic disease, upon indigenous Christianity in the New World. Although colonial New Spain is the locus of this study, my investigation and interpretation will move both outward geographically and forward in time, finding important points of reference in the Andes, Brazil, and even in the United States. Taking religion as the central interpretive category, I explore how the encounter with epidemics altered indigenous epistemologies and cosmologies including conceptions of the sacred, the place and significance of the human being in the cosmic order, and the nature of the divine-human relationship. I will look carefully at changes in ritual, mortuary practice, and notions of illness, death and dying post-contact. Within adopted Christian practice, the meaning and use of sacraments, the appeal to religious images, the purpose of processions and penitence among indigenous Christians will be key subjects for investigation and reflection.

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Caren Kaplan
Caren Kaplan, Women and Gender Studies, UC Davis
The View From Above

This project focuses on the intersection of two important aspects of modern culture, war and art, to explore the ways a newly realized social imaginary—the view from above--shaped relationships between people and places. Histories of aviation and modern war, especially those that focus on air power, often concentrate on European locations as do histories of early photography, cinema and landscape art. Looking at images of Iraq and Afghanistan produced through official and unofficial means during a 90 year period of geopolitical conflict offers new perspectives on these established histories. This approach also helps us to understand how views from above in particular, by training our eyes to see terrain in certain ways, shape modern ideas about the targets of war.

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Stepham MiescherStephan Miescher, History, UC Santa Barbara
Akosombo Stories: The Volta River Project, Modernization, and Nationhood in Ghana

Akosombo Stories examines Ghana’s most ambitious development project, the Volta River Project completed in 1966, and its importance for nation building. In Ghana, the name “Akosombo” has multiple meanings: the dam across the Volta, the Akosombo Township built as a model city, electrical power, cloth produced by the company Akosombo Textile Ltd., and the experience of migration and resettlement due to flooding. Akosombo Stories, based on archival and oral research, explores the history of these different meanings and unpacks their cultural, social, and political implications. By exploring how the Akosombo Dam has become the metaphor for the legacy of modernization in Ghana, Akosombo Stories contributes to the debate about modernity in Africa. It engages with work about the role of development in decolonization and nationalism, particularly the technologies created by large-scale projects and their ecological consequences, in postcolonial Africa and elsewhere across the former colonized world. Looking at modernization from a humanities perspective is a departure from established scholarship. While social scientists have focused on the economic, social, and technical aspects of the Volta River Project, there is no cultural history that shows how ordinary Ghanaians have related the phenomenon of Akosombo to their understanding of development, modernity, and nationhood.

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Michael Osman, Architecture & Urban Design, UCLA
Regulation, Architecture, Modernism

This project examines the modernization of the United States through a group of regulatory techniques and institutions that emerged in the early twentieth century. In this period, conceptions of power based on laissez-faire capitalism were giving way to systems of governance that aimed to control the economies of the home, market, nature and labor. Environmental technologies for avoiding, delaying, and constraining the uncertainties resulting from the massive economic development of the United States established a new approach to securing its future through the regulation of risk. Representing the dynamics of environmental flux became essential for constructing architectural modernism's relationship to the emergence of regulatory technologies. My research examines key instances of this engagement such as: the design of buildings that held cooling systems for regulating the supply of food to fluctuations in demand, laboratories and scientific displays that made nature's economy visible to science and the broader public, as well as new representational systems that made the organization of the modern factory observable and alterable by methods of production control. In all these cases, I analyze the ways in which the conventions of architectural design and representation were used to translate the knowledge of environmental and economic flux into public images of control.

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Alka Patel
Alka Patel, Art History, UC Irvine
The Ghurid Architecture of South Asia & Historiography at the Ends of the Islamic World

The work will be an important contribution to two discourses, which I contend have been artificially separated: the architectural histories of India and the Islamic World (the latter encompassing primarily the Middle East and Turkey). Treating architectural patronage as state formation in praxis, the book will analyze the distinct Ghurid architectural corpora (late twelfth-early thirteenth centuries) east and west of the Indus River, challenging scholarly ideas of pre-modern dynasties as homogenizing historical forces. Further, the work will propose that Ghurid buildings were the result of both indigenous Indic temple architecture and non-local Islamic monumental architecture. They also had consequences for the built form in both early modern South Asia and the wider Islamic World, thereby necessitating analysis from the points of view of both these artificially divided scholarly specialties.

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Theodore Porter
Theodore Porter, History, UCLA
Institutionalized Heredity: Statistics, Defectives, and the Rise of Human Genetics

The role of asylums and schools in collecting hereditary data during the eugenic era from about 1900 to 1940 is well known to historians. What we have failed to appreciate is the intense effort by such institutions in the later nineteenth century not only to compile records of heredity, but to track diseases and defects in families and in this way to comprehend scientifically the processes of hereditary transmission. Such investigations were first of all statistical, involving a close alliance of scientific and bureaucratic reporting. Indeed, this work grew up and flourished as the scale of mental hospitals and asylums for "idiots and imbeciles" expanded massively. The eugenic turn reflected disillusionment with their capacity to cure and a growing preoccupation of the rising welfare state with the cultivation of healthy, productive citizens. The data-driven science of heredity, with its percentages of damaged heredity, its unwieldy numerical tables, and its vast archives of pedigrees, was not overturned by the genetics or mathematical statistics, but perpetuated in a new form. Institutional numbers remained fundamental to human genetics through the interwar and postwar periods and into the genomic era.

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Roberta Wue, Art History, UC Irvine
Art Worlds: Making Artists and Audiences in Nineteenth-century Shanghai

The formation of a lively new art world in later nineteenth-century Shanghai is marked by new practices that were oriented towards a large and urban viewership and which recast the artist in the role of not only culture-maker, but also as celebrity, public figure and entrepreneur. As a crucial component of a Shanghai culture that placed a heavy premium on display and spectacle, the art world evolved formats, subjects and styles of art – and a public presence -- that served a public fascinated by the popular, the fashionable and the diverting. The Shanghai art world also enhanced and enriched its relationship with a popular audience by participating in and exploiting the city's burgeoning mass media, expanding its activities to venues such as the newspaper, the magazine and the illustrated book. It is these new relationships between artist, product and audience that I explore in this account of the late Qing Shanghai art world, with a focus on the multiple stages – public and private -- on which the Shanghai artist constantly packaged and presented him or herself to their diverse audiences.

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Christian Wuthrich
Christian Wuthrich, Philosophy, UC San Diego
Emergent Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity

The nature of space and time are perennial and fruitful issues in philosophy, engaging deeply with other disciplines such as physics. Relativity was the last revolution in the physics of spacetime; the next one involves quantum theories of gravity, or \quantum gravity." While approaches to quantum gravity are legion, and the field as a whole is very much in flux, one important suggestion is shared by almost all approaches: that space and time are not fundamental ingredients of the world, but somehow \emerge" from deeper, non-spatiotemporal physics. The idea that space or time are not \real" at the basic level would shatter our current conception of the universe, and hence of our place within it. This collaborative project endeavors to investigate these implications. This is the first such project by philosophers, showing how many central philosophical ideas must be rethought. Since the physics and the pertinent mathematical apparatus involved are unusually demanding, the project is divided into two main subprojects, one focusing on string theory (headed by Nick Huggett) and the other on loop quantum gravity (led by Christian Wuthrich), thus covering the two main approaches to quantum gravity.

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